Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Twenty-Seven

I saw this at the grocery store, the other day.

See the blue part there? "If you're lucky enough to look under 27..."


I chuckled quietly and thought, what a clever little way to keep people from getting angry when you card them. That thought was followed quickly by, and if you don't look younger than 27, you're unlucky? Hey! Fuck you.

Didn't being older used to be a good thing? There was a time when looking older got you some respect, didn't it? Is that mentality dying? Is it dead?

Four or five years ago, I took my kids to a playground. There was a boy climbing on top of the equipment and balancing in a precarious manner. He looked like he might fall at any second, and his parents were sitting at a picnic table on the other side of the park, not watching.

"You should probably come down from there," I said as my own children played around me.

"You're not my mom. I don't have to do what you say."

My thoughts ran something like this: Excuse me? Are you serious, kid? Where do you get off speaking to an adult that way?

For the record, I called to the boys parents to ask them if they were ok with their brat's climbing, and they yelled for him to get down and come sit by them. I wonder if they'd have been embarrassed by what their kid said if I'd have told them. Respecting others might not have a been a very high priority with that family.

What about my family? Am I contributing to the disrespect of aged people? I'm guilty of sighing over or complaining about my wrinkles and grey hairs. I buy face creams, hair dyes, make-up, and clothes to give myself a more youthful appearance. Am I ashamed of being older? And how can I demand respect for that which I am ashamed of?

People, I think something's wrong.

I'm wondering, does this age thing go part and parcel with the outrage over body image? Is it a symptom of a bigger disease or is it the disease? Should I want to look older so that I'm respected or younger so that I'm, what, desired? Desired by who? Desired for what? Maybe a longing to be desired is really just a longing to be loved and.. Respected? Or simply accepted? Will looking older get me any respect, anyway?

Oh my gosh, what's wrong with our nation that people are feeling so needy and unfulfilled?

I wondered where this mentality that we must all look younger came from. I started Googling phrases like "why look young." The results I found shocked me.


Is aging normal? Are you freaking kidding me?

I finally found this at eHealth. A girl complains of looking too young for her age and how annoying it is. Responses include several commiserations and a few like this one:
What? That is not a problem, that is a blessing! Don't worry ...[you're] smart..and gorgeous! Enjoy it! Love yourself and enjoy being young and beautiful because in the blink of an eye you will be older and look back saying why didn't I enjoy my youth. I am 49 and look 49. I wish I looked 39 or 29...come on, girl!
 And then finally someone with some wisdom:
I just want to be happy for my age. I think we worry too much about how we look when it's really such a small part of who we are. What I really wish is that I knew then what I know now. If I could go back to when I was in my early 20s, I would tell myself to just enjoy it and not be so insecure. I would tell myself to enjoy my youthful body for what it can do for me, not how it looks in the eyes of others. That would have freed me up to do a lot of the things I didn't do then because I was afraid of how I would look doing it. I think you gain a lot of confidence with age and maturity (and motherhood) and I would never trade that for younger looks.
And this:
...people (unfortunately) treat you more kindly if they think you're young or look good. Our values are all mixed up.
Finally, I found what I was looking for, ironically, in the virtual pages of Time Magazine, in an interview with author Suzanne Braun Levine, the first editor of Ms. magazine.
Why do so many women lie about their age?
Well, we live in a society that is very ageist. Certainly the most significant victims have been women. It used to be that when a woman went through what was called her "change of life" — which was what menopause was called — her life stopped changing. Now we are creating a whole new age for women that really defies the stereotype that as women get older, they should be invisible, they should sit by the phone and wait for an opportunity to baby-sit for their grandchildren. I think our experience is going to change the perception of women in this society.
So, that's what it's all about? Our desire to look younger is a trickle down effect from the feelings of a previous generation, where women in particular, associated being older with being worthless. At some point, our feminist grandmothers began fighting a system that was degrading them by using  make-up. It's really not that different from Katherine Hepburn donning pants. No wonder the Avon lady was such an icon! I guess my perception of respected elders was limited to exactly that, a younger person respecting an older person, and left no room for respect from one's peers.


On the website for Psychology Today, Vivian Diller writes,
...I predict that in the near future, there will be more men and women who feel as I do, not only proud about their age, but eager to celebrate it as an accomplishment, a sign of health and longevity.
Right on! Now, we're talking.

Reading Ms. Diller's article gave me the hope I was looking for in researching this subject. I would quote her entire article to you, except that doesn't make any sense when you can click on the above link and just go read it, there. She gives me hope for a future where people are proud of the way they are naturally, and she gives me courage to help that movement along.

Accepting your age doesn't mean you have to "let yourself go." It is still in your best interest to exercise, eat right, and wear sunscreen. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with hair color, high fashion, and make-up, either, as long as they are used for creative expression rather than for hiding who you really are, but I'm not sure, honestly, where that line is.

In a few months, I'll be 40 years old. I have four children. I've suffered a few hardships. I'm far from being a sage, but I've lived a little. I don't look under 27. I'm ok with that. Don't tell me I shouldn't be.



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